In Ireland thankfully we are not normally subjected to earth shattering explosions or seismic sensations on the Richter Scale of destruction. Such phenomenon are normally associated with countries or regions of the globe that have a history of such happenings or that lie unfortunately in close proximity to volatile areas such as in Japan, Turkey or closer to home, Italy. However, we have in recent years felt tremors most notably in Donegal. Indeed, according to the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN) there have been a number of off shore earthquakes over the last number of years most notably: 40 km off the Wicklow coast at a depth of 1 kilo meter on the 11th December 2020.
James Clarence Mangan
The poet dying in squalor in a garret conjures up images of reflective remorse tinged with sadness at the passing of a gifted servant of the pen. That death brought him or her the adoration that in life they could not master is evidence of the tragedy that the mundane is a poor second to the inspiration of creativity that the poet lusts after. Choosing between a morsel of food or the mapping of a masterpiece was perhaps Mangan’s gift to us. He died in squalor it is said replete with the companion of poverty to guide him to the next chapter in the after-life. He is regarded as one of the great poets of the 19th century.
The Duke of Wellington
Described as a bit of an Idler and someone who was fond of frequenting 'houses of ill repute' in his native Dublin, Arthur Wellesley is remembered in historical terms as the victor of Waterloo, the man who put manners on Napoleon. He may also have had more than a passing involvement on the issue of Catholic Emancipation in Ireland, something that will be forever associated with Daniel O’Connell, The Liberator. He was also twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and his name is forever associated with the fashion accessory of the multitudes, the humble Wellington boot.
John Millington Synge
This year marks one hundred and fifty years since the birth of playwright and poet, John Millington Synge. When we remember Synge, instinctively one is drawn as if by temptation, to launch into the preordained ritual of attacking his perceived rebuke on the people of the soil, the peasant farmer of his time. This is immediately followed by tails of riots and unholy scenes at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, the scene of the staging of the Playboy of the Western World.
In 21st century Ireland we are still going through a political time warp which is manifested in our civil-war centred concentration on a two party system. This historical hangover has its origins in the Peace Treaty of 1921 which brought a premature end to over seven hundred years of conflict between Ireland and England. Because of its sequential ramifications, the partitioning of the country being the primary consequence, a civil-war would ensue with opposing sides becoming the pro and anti-Treaty elements that would ultimately morph into the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil political persuasions that have between them ran the state since its foundation.
The life of Seán O’Casey has been described and might indeed be determined as an interesting account of the travails of a writer seeking recognition like any of his class. However, one might be forgiven for accepting that class was indeed the determining factor that brought him acceptance by some and rejection by others. The Dublin into which O’Casey was born was still convulsing from deprivation of the body but instinctively galvanising itself as an instrument of idealism to forge a better future. In a divided city, capital of a divided country the struggle for the rights of workers, their families and their city, loomed large in his orbit.